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May 1, 2015 is School Lunch Hero Day!  We know that our students are better learners when their stomachs aren’t grumbling. Every day our cafeteria staff plays a HUGE role in making sure our students have healthy meals to eat at school each day.

Today we are saying THANK YOU to over 400 BPS school food professionals who prepare around 40,000 meals every day for BPS students.  These women and men work hard as they aim to prepare healthy, tasty meals that meet federal nutrition standards and student preferences on the lunch line.

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At the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, FoodCorps Service Member Annabel Raby organized a cafeteria staff appreciation day to honor and thank the staff with posters and aprons decorated by the students.

Hope you will also take a moment to say THANK YOU to your cafeteria staff today!

School Lunch Hero Day was started by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author and illustrator of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series to say THANK YOU to his childhood school lunch hero and all the women and men who continue to serve and care for our students every day in our school cafeterias.

Check out this YouTube video to learn more about School Lunch Hero Day!

 

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FoodCorps2Earlier this month we highlighted  Annabel Raby and Amanda Chin, FoodCorps Service Members in BPS working with City Sprouts.  For our final National Farm to School Month post, we are highlighting two more amazing FoodCorps Service Members working with Boston Public Schools: Harry Meltzer and Christine Randall.

Harry is working with the Boston Green Academy located in the in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, to bring food into the curriculum throughout content-areas, helping students connect to food through science, mathematics, humanities, social justice, and personal experience. Harry is also helping to build a new garden and set up indoor gardening in classrooms to help our students and staff immerse themselves in the excitement of fresh, healthy food!

In the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Christine is working with The Food Project, leading four weekly 3rd grade classes about food, plant science, and cooking at John Winthrop Elementary School and Samuel W. Mason Elementary School. Christine also assists with organizing and running workdays for Root Crew members at The Food Project. Root Crew is a yearlong, capstone experience in which high school students, from the city and suburbs, develop skills in urban farming, teaching, and facilitating to promote food system change.

Our community partners are bringing farm to school lessons alive in the classroom and in school gardens for BPS students across the district!

Check out USDA’s video “Healthy Habits Take Root – Engaging the Community in Farm to School Efforts” to learn about how other districts are partnering with their communities to support farm to school:

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Boston Public Schools (BPS) has wonderful partners that help support farm to school and school garden efforts in our schools.  This week we are highlighting CitySprouts and FoodCorps as one our BPS Farm to School partners that’s making an impact in our schools.  Annabel Raby and Amanda Chin are FoodCorps Service Members with City Sprouts working with Orchard Gardens K-8 School, Mather Elementary School and Higginson-Lewis K-8 School this year.

Amanda is managing the Food Pantry at Orchard Gardens K-8 School once a month serving 200 families who live in surrounding neighborhoods. She is also leading a CitySprouts after school program at the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in collaboration with Citizens Schools that will use food justice issues and the local food system as a topics developing communication skills with a class of 7th graders.

Annabel is leading Team Grow, CitySprouts after school program in Boston, at the Mather Elementary School (with 4th and 5th graders) and at the Higginson-Lewis School (with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders).  These students will be examining the interdependence of the garden’s ecosystem and learning how to support each other through growing, harvesting, and cooking food from the garden.

Amanda and Annabel are supporting food education and distribution in our schools and we are thankful for the impact that they will have on our students at Orchard Garden Pilot School, Mather Elementary School and Higginson-Lewis K-8 School this year!

Also check out how Farm to School efforts across the country are impacting students in a healthy way:

 

Wondering what’s locally grown in Boston Public Schools meals? Check out the locally grown carrot coins that are on the menu this Thursday!

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What is Food Day?  Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.   Every day in Boston Public Schools we are trying to provide our students with healthy affordable, tasty meals.

BPS celebrated Food Day by serving up:

Cheeseburgers made with 100% ground beef (that means no “fillers”!) on whole wheat buns.

Homemade Southwest Vegetable Soup featuring locally grown butternut squash.  This was a recipe developed a few years ago by our former Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Manager, Alex Emmott, and voted on by students in multiple schools across the city.

Locally grown carrot coins, grown by Joe Czajkowski’s Farm in Hadley, MA (also where the local butternut squash was from!) and a fresh pear.

The best part of this meal is that these items are REGULARLY featured on the menu throughout the year! You don’t have to wait till next year’s Food Day to have a healthy tasty lunch!

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What else did we do to celebrate Food Day this year?

At the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain, Ms. Moody’s 4th graders talked about their favorite vegetable recipes and planted garlic in their school garden.  Special guests included, Sadie Richards (our former FoodCorps Service Member), Sebastian Downs, BPS Green Schools Volunteer Management Coordinator, and Phoebe Beierle, BPS Sustainability Manager joined Ms. Moody’s class to talk about Food Day and how garlic grows.

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How did YOU celebrate Food Day in YOUR school this year?

 

[1/27/2014] The 2013 Food Day Report is now available! 

 

During the month of October, school districts in all 50 states are celebrating connections being made between schools and their local farms for National Farm to School Month.  Farm to school programs are a part of a grassroots movement that looks a little different in each school/school district.  Farm to School efforts are aiming to:

  • increase the amount of fresh, locally grown produce in school meals
  • support local and regional farmers
  • connect students to agriculture, food and nutrition education through farm field trips, school garden education and much more.

What’s happening in Boston Public Schools during National Farm to School Month?

Local Lunch Thursdays are back!  Check out the menu in our full kitchen cafeteria schools, and give the local harvest a try on the lunch line!

  • Thursday 10/18. Locally Grown Cabbage and Carrot Coleslaw
  • Thursday 10/25. Locally Grown Butternut Squash and Locally Grown Collard Greens

What are some of our partners up to during National Farm to School Month?

theMOVE is a local nonprofit leading reflective farm-volunteer field trips with diverse groups in the Metro-Boston Area.  This month theMOVE is taking BPS students to nearby farms:

Tuesday, 10/23, students from the Lila G Frederick School are heading to to Brookwood Farm
Friday, 10/26, students from the Boston Teachers Union School are heading to Fat Moon Farm

Mass. Farm to School Project recently launched their new website and wrapped up their 6th annual Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week.   This month they are launching the new MA Farm to School Network which is designed to support practitioners working on the ground in every aspect of the farm to school movement – from school nutrition professionals to school garden coordinators to farm based educators and beyond.  BPS Farm to School is proud to be a part of this Network!

FoodCorps Service Members  Dan Chamberlain and Norris Guscott are continuing to lead school garden efforts at Orchard Gardens K-8 and Dearborn Middle School this month!

 

 

Is YOUR school doing something special this month to connect BPS students to agriculture, food and nutrition education? Please share! We’d love to know what you are up to!

In honor of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance, MA FoodCorps Team rolled up their sleeves and put their shovels in the dirt to build BPS Food and Nutrition Services Department a new garden.

BIG THANK YOU to Sadie Richards, MA FoodCorps Fellow (former MA FoodCorps Service Member at Dearborn Middle School) and her Boston team Marlie Wilson, Stephanie Simmons, Norris Guscott, and Dan Chamberlain for turning our overgrown milkweed patch into a small patch of inspiration!  What better way to inspire fresh healthy school meals than to have a vegetable garden right outside our office!  We are looking forward to a fall crop of radishes, kale, swiss chard, arugula, and more.

This year’s FoodCorps Team will be working with The Food Project and CitySprouts at the Dearborn Middle School and Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury.  They will be engaging students and teachers with their school gardens, supporting our farm to school efforts in the cafeterias and much more.  We are looking forward to another exciting year with FoodCorps in BPS this year!  THANKS FOODCORPS!

Sadie Richards, a FoodCorps Service Member, started with the Boston Public Schools’ Department of Food and Nutrition Services in late August 2011.  FoodCorps, a division of AmeriCorps, aims to reverse the trend of childhood obesity through engaging students in agriculture, educating students about food and nutrition, and facilitating student access to fresh fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers.  Since August, Sadie has been working with the Farm to School Team at BPS and coordinating the Dearborn Middle School Garden, which was generously donated (and constructed!) by a team from Fidelity Investments.    

Sadie teaches a gardening activity block twice a week – Monday and Friday afternoons – during which she and her students do everything from garden maintenance and planting to taste-testing, food preservation, and composting.  Thanks to the clever construction of protective plastic “hoophouses” (and our unusually mild winter weather), the Dearborn Garden is still green!  Growing under the white covers is a diverse mix of crops including radishes, kale, collard greens, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard, and pak choi.

When they are not tending to the raised beds, Sadie leads her students in a variety of food and gardening lessons.  For example, Andy Brooks, President and Founder of Bootstrap Compost, recently spoke to the group about his business, community benefits of composting, as well as the composting process in general.  Sadie led the group in an interactive activity which explored the 5 kingdoms in compost and the life cycle.  Later that week, students participated in a lunchtime collection of apple cores and orange peels for the school compost bin. 

In another recent workshop, Sadie’s students participated in a “pickle cook-off,” in which students tested two different recipes for pickled radishes.  The exercise not only flexed their kitchen skills, but also required some basic multiplication and knowledge of fractions. 

What’s next for the Dearborn Garden?  Sadie has plans for workshops in environmental and food justice, irrigation systems, and food and the media, as well as field trips to the Dudley Farmer’s Market, Boston Gardener, and Haley House.   Best of all, warmer spring weather will mean more time with hands in the dirt!